Alkaline Water – Is It Healthy or a Hoax?
You’ve heard some good things about “alkaline” water, so you go out and buy some. And you find alkaline water is much more expensive than regular bottled water.
So, is alkaline water healthier for you, or it is just a marketing hoax?
Can Drinking Alkaline Water Prevent or Cure Cancer?
Some marketers of alkaline water have claimed that drinking alkaline water can cure cancer. But the Mayo Clinic notes that there are still no reliable, peer-reviewed studies which can show that drinking alkaline water can prevent cancer, reduce your chances of getting it, or cure it if you do get it.
Drinking Alkaline Water Can Have Positive Benefits
But aside from preventing cancer, there have been studies that show drinking alkaline water can be beneficial to certain people with certain conditions. The 2001 issue of “Shanghai Journal of Protective Medicine” published a study which found that drinking alkaline water for three to six months was successful in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose in the study’s participants.
Studies Prove The Effectiveness of Alkaline Water
Neutralizing stomach acid and its associated discomfort and gasiness is another known feature of alkaline water. The July 2012 edition of “Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology” published a study titled “Potential Benefits of pH 8.8 Alkaline Drinking Water as an Adjunct in the Treatment of Reflux Disease”. It found that alkaline water – water with a pH of 8.8 – was effective in neutralizing stomach acid and pepsin. This would make alkaline water a contender as treatment for acid reflux, which is a huge problem in the USA. The over-the-counter medication Zantac (ranitidine) is the second-biggest-selling OTC drug in the USA – after Tylenol (acetaminophen) – and is kept under lock and key at many pharmacies because it is so frequently stolen.
A study in France followed the health of 3,777 elderly people between 1988-2004 in rural areas where the drinking water is known to have a high aluminum or silica content. The study, published in a 2009 issue of the “American Journal of Epidemiology” as “Aluminum and silica in drinking water and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline.” One of the study’s findings was that silica in drinking water – about 10 mg per day – was associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia. More studies to further confirm this are now being undertaken as US baby-boomers age and dementia becomes a growing problem in the US.
A 2010 study titled “Acid-base balance and hydration status following consumption of mineral-based alkaline bottled water”, which was published in “The Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine,” found conclusively that people who drank alkaline water showed an improved acid-base balance and hydration status when compared to a control group which drank only tap water.
Drinking Alkaline Water May Not Be For Everybody
But please be aware: making your body more alkaline isn’t always a good thing. If you have certain kidney conditions or you are taking certain medication that affects your kidney function, you should not drink alkaline water because the minerals that exist in alkaline water may begin to build up in your body.
Also be aware that even if you drink alkaline water and it works for you, remember the old saying, “everything in moderation”. If you drink too much alkaline water, you may disrupt your body’s normal pH. This can lead to a condition called metabolic alkalosis, which can cause you to experience nausea, vomiting, confusion, muscle twitching, hand tremors, or tingling in your hands, feet or face.
Natural Spring Water Is Better Than Reverse Osmosis
Also be aware that there are two types of alkaline water. Firstly, there is “artificial” alkaline water: this is nothing but ordinary tap water water which is ionized by the process of ‘Reverse Osmosis” which makes the pH level more alkaline. The second type is bottled natural spring or mineral water. Spring water passes naturally through rocks and soil, absorbing various minerals on the way. These minerals, such as calcium, silica, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate, occur naturally in spring water, and make the water more alkaline.
So which one is healthier? Lawrence Wilson, M.D., a specialist in nutritional balancing at Arizona’s Center For Development, says that spring water with naturally occurring minerals is the healthier type of alkaline water. He says, “A good source of alkaline water is spring water — usually a pH of 8 to 8.5 — that naturally becomes alkaline by acquiring minerals as it passes over rocks.”
Spring Water Is Better Than Reverse Osmosis
Dr. Wilson advises that you should not buy water-ionizing machines to ionize tap water but should rather go for the natural spring water if you’re going to drink alkaline water. Dr. Wilson prefers natural spring water. He says the ionizing machines simply use titanium or platinum to make the water alkaline, and points out that they don’t contain the natural minerals that the body requires.
Drinking alkaline water is part of an alkaline diet. See this article at Web MD about following an alkaline diet.
Other Types of Enhanced Water
In addition to alkaline water, there are at least three other types of enhanced water you might want to look into. All have purported health benefits:
- Mineral Water. This type of water contains minerals from the water’s source. “Sulfurous” water has been known to help treat diabetes, and “bicarbonate” water has been shown to help neutralize stomach acid and relieve acid reflux in similar ways to alkaline water.
- Water with Electrolytes. Electrolytes are essential minerals that regulate fluid balance in your body. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes (particularly sodium) and these electrolytes must be replaced. You can get your electrolytes from food, and drink lots of water. If you do endurance training, water with electrolytes is particularly useful.
- Enhanced Waters – Flavors or Vitamins. If drinking flavored water helps you drink more water, that’s a good thing – as long as we’re talking water without sugars or sugar substitutes. It is better to get your vitamins from food than from enhanced water – your body absorbs them better that way.